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story.lead_photo.caption Seniors play bingo at the Collins Senior Center on Thursday afternoon. The Center has opened to the public after being closed for almost a year. Photo by Kelsi Brinkmeyer / Texarkana Gazette.

The Collins Senior Center has reopened after being closed almost a year because of COVID-19.

The center, which is operated by the Texarkana, Texas, Parks and Recreation Department, reopened on March 15 with a number of safety precautions in place.

"We are open back open. I don't know who was more excited, the seniors or me. It's good to get back to what we are used to," said Gertrude Abby, who operates the center.

"It's really good to be back and play games like we used to," said Carolyn Crowder.

During the last year, Crowder kept friends from the center connected over the phone. But they have missed getting together and quilting and playing Skip-Bo and other games.

"Even my doctor said it's a good thing that we are opening up," said Betsy Quinn. "He said we need that communication with each other. When it closed last year, I started doing puzzles at home and adult coloring books. But then I ran out of things to do," Quinn said.

Besty Quinn plays bingo with her table at the Collins Center.
Photo by Kelsi Brinkmeyer/Texarkana Gazette.

Abby, who has worked for the city of Texarkana, Texas, for 17 years and with seniors for 11 years, also kept up with some of the seniors during lockdown. Sadly, several regulars at the Collins Center were lost to COVID-19.

"My heart breaks for those who are no longer with us. I have gone to several services this year," she said.

Working with the senior adults has become a passion for Abby.

"There is nothing like the wisdom you gain from these seniors. I'm still learning from them," she said.

No meals will be served at the Collins Senior Center until further notice, but the Grab and Go Meals program will continue from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Southwest Center, 3222 W. 7th St.

A new membership program has started, and applicants should bring state-issued identification to register.

Carolyn Crowder shows off quilts that members of the Collins Senior Center have made for nursing home residents. The center is recruiting new members and quilters are needed.
Photo by Lori Dunn/Texarkana Gazette.

There is no charge to register, members just need to fill out a form, Abby said.

Some of the activities offered include:

Armchair aerobics from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Quilting, knitting and crochet from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays.

Games from 12 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. every day.

Bridge from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays (players wanted)

Line dancing class from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursdays ($1 participation fee)

Bingo from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

The Collins Senior Center is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and is located at 3000 Texas Blvd.

Calendars of events are available, or call 903-793-5545 for more information.

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